Dear members and friends,
All my four grandparents were born in the same remote valley in the Lazio region of Italy; when in the 1920s the Di Ciaccas came to Glasgow – the Demarcos to Edinburgh – their children (my mum and dad) attended primary school. From my own childhood, I vaguely remember Italian ‘gatherings’ – but the Italo-Scots integrated quickly, and ‘all that’ disappeared. In recent years, the nearest I get to Italian culture is my enjoyment of the Inspector Montalbano TV series. Its creator, Andrea Camilleri died on July 17, aged 93.
It’s easy to be attracted to Salvo Montalbano’s lifestyle, in the climate and landscapes of Sicily: that gorgeous terrace overlooking the Med – his daily swims; the beachside trattoria where he lunches; the gourmet cooking of his drop-in house keeper Adelina; his long-distance relationship with partner/lover Livia etc. etc – what’s not to like?
But Camilleri also has more serious intent; his main character, Salvo, is a fundamentally honest man, decent and loyal – but whose insight into human weakness comes in part from his own flaws. Basically incorruptible, we watch the inspector navigate through a murky world, without compromising himself beyond what he can live with. In the end we are watching the struggle of our own ‘better self’; captivating.
Some years ago, (in case he got Alzheimer’s) Camilleri gave his publishers a final book, to hold in reserve – an ‘unmistakable ending’ of the series. But if he intended that Montalbano should end with his creator – that’s unlikely to happen; too many people around the world want more.
In 2004, Boris Johnson wrote a novel (Seventy-Two Virgins) with a hero called Roger Barlow; it’s clear that Barlow is mostly a self-portrait – surprisingly self-aware and unflattering. Partly informed by this sketch; Fintan O’Toole has delivered a devastating insight into the character of our new PM. Johnson ascribes the term ‘akratic’ to Barlow (new to me) which refers to people not in command of themselves – who act against their own better judgement. His joker’s evasiveness disguised this – helped take him to power – but it will be of no use now that he has to make fateful decisions; now it gets real.
When Labour ruled Scotland, they opposed community empowerment in favour of municipalism: ‘power should reside with elected councils’. As a community worker, I helped communities organise against this; we contested Labour’s ideological position passionately – but we at least understood it; after 10 years, I haven’t a clue what the SNP’s position is. They say all the right words and phrases – we even have the 2015 Community Empowerment Act – but nothing happens. This excellent Andy Wightman piece identifies the established pattern: policy ambition is stated – then watered down – then apparently abandoned. Two dozen (mainly public sector) bodies have cooperated to produce this document: ‘Principles of Community Empowerment’ ; the nearest we’ll get to the shared understanding of ‘officialdom’.
Last Friday’s ‘i’ newspaper blazoned the news that Britain’s 600 aristocratic families doubled their wealth in the last decade: zero land reform. As Wightman’s article says (above) we’ll never achieve widespread communal ownership of land until people have community-sized local democracy – to demand ownership of the land they live on, and to manage it as common land.
“The Scottish Land Commission has launched a new survey seeking views of communities across Scotland about community engagement in decisions relating to land”. A new protocol supplements Scottish Govt guidance. As community workers disappear from civil society (cutbacks) – the Commission wants to identify what further support may be required. Answer – the missing tier of democracy.
The intelligent design that Albert Einstein saw in the universe shared no part of the mythology of established religions. For Einstein, the designer created only the laws – from which all else inevitably follows – but he considered himself to be ‘religious’.
“My religiosity consists of a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we can comprehend of the knowable world. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the comprehensible universe, forms my idea of God. How can cosmic religious feeling be communicated from one person to another, if it can give rise to no definite notion of a God and no theology? In my view, it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it.”
The most recent SE Reference Sub-Group in Glasgow in June was the start of a process that, we hope, will identify a set of Guiding Principles that can provide a template that can shape and inform the next SE Action Plan. We stated that it was our intention – in partnership with Social Firms Scotland and the Scottish Community Alliance – to host a series of follow-up ‘gatherings’ across the country – culminating in a national conference in November. The intention will be to give an opportunity for SEN members and other grassroot SEs to feed in their wishes, ambitions and priorities for our next Action Plan. We are delighted to say that we now have 10 events scheduled over the next couple of months – from Dumfries and Galloway and up to Inverness. All ‘gatherings’ will be hosted in partnership with local partners. A full list of dates and venues will be available next week. Here are some of the Emerging Themes so far.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.
Frontline News: Another Homeless World Cup gets underway this weekend. This year’s tournament takes place in Cardiff. Take a look at this video to get an insight into how the tournament works and the social impact it has. Also, news that the Melting Pot’s successful social innovation incubator Good Ideas has expanded to Glasgow. Up in Dundee, Dundee SEN member, The Circle is launching its Circle Academy – a 12-week practical and educational training programme for folk interested in running social businesses.
Although Just Enterprise’s new business support programme does not officially launch till next month – they are inviting applications for one-to-one support for start-up or established organisations via their temporary holding page on the Just Enterprise website. The new programme will also be including new topics such as digital marketing, internationalisation and social impact measurement.
Couple of interesting blogs from our partners at Senscot Legal to share this week. First up, Annie Morris has written a handy guide to setting up a trading subsidiary for a charity – covering definitions of a trading subsidiary, how to set one up, funding avenues and considerations. Meanwhile, Kirsty Noble has also written a guest blog for P4P on the legal implications of forming a partnership between two or more organisations – including decisions on governance, and whether or not to form a new legal entity. Read Kirsty’s piece here.
Earlier this year, Community Enterprise launched its SE Map – charting Scotland’s social enterprise support eco-system. The development of the SE Map was supported by Scottish Govt and is also available in an interactive format. With a view to improving the Map, Community Enterprise is hosting an event in Edinburgh (26th August) to debate the concept of the SE Map and how, in future, social enterprises can more easily find the support they need as the next three-year Action Plan is prepared. The event is free to attend.
This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise hub, based in Balloch on the shores of Loch Lomond, and is a collaboration between the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs Community Partnership and the Social Enterprise Academy. The SE Hub will look to provide opportunities to connect and learn with others who are creating positive social change across the national park – by connecting local folk with a pool of SE Academy associate facilitators through face-to-face learning that include the Academy’s leadership and other programmes. The Hub launches at the Growing Enterprising Communities event in Arrochar (28th Aug) and is open to a wide range of people working in and around the national park.